Saturday, February 28, 2009

One More Thing Aaron Won't Eat

It never fails.

I hastily throw up a post that I wrote during my lunch hour and I inadvertently omit something. Por ejemplo, that "things I won't eat" post was originally going to be just three items. Then, five. Then, I got stuck on eight. And, then I couldn't come up with an even ten.

This morning, I'm making my online newspaper rounds and came across this item from the Los Angeles Times regarding the mayor of Los Alamitos resigning. It reminded me that I absolutely HATE watermelon. In my mind, watermelon is right up there with Red Sox fans Mets fans Blue Jays fans Los Angeles Lakers fans and reality television.

Watermelon has no substantive texture or flavor. It's the only thing messier than that rack of ribs at every summer barbecue. Oh yeah, it's racist, too.

At times like these, when our nation remains divided despite the progress we've made, I'm reminded of the need for a unifying voice:

"Honeydew is the MONEY melon."

Indeed it is, Krusty. Indeed, it is.

Friday, February 27, 2009

TBG TV: Lost - "The Life & Death of Jeremy Bentham"

The Good:

The whole Tunisian "hospital" scene was gloriously graphic – by commercial television standards. Just a frenzied assault on the senses between the pills washed down with cloudy water, the "BITE! BITE!" barking and, finally, Locke passing out from the pain of having a compound fracture set by, ummm…somewhat unsanitary standards.

A few weeks ago, I bitched about the "Charles Widmore was once on the island" revelation as being thrown out there (seemingly) solely for shock value. Widmore offered up more out-of-nowhere exposition this week, but it served a purpose here. Obviously, he was just pulling Locke's strings (even if Widmore's claim of long-ago island leadership is authentic) and nicely reestablished the core conflict between Widmore and Ben Linus.

Gotta admit, it was something of a guilty pleasure to watch Jack and Kate take such wonderfully mean-spirited swipes at Locke. Kate's "look how far you've come" gut punch was especially venomous.

"Boy's gotten big." New favorite line of the season!

The Bad:

I couldn't have been the only to notice the passing resemblance in character between the late Ana Lucia and the island's newest ethnic hotness, Ilana. I'm sure (hope?) there'll be more here than meets the eye, but after her first two appearances, I'm wondering why the writers didn't just call "Ilana" something like "Ana 2-cia". No? How 'bout "Ana Lu-sequel"? No? Not funny at all? Not even a little?

Did Locke really need the Obi-Wan Kenobi "hood n' cape" reveal in the opening scene? Was that an inside nod that went way over my head?

Fine. They had to write Matthew Abaddon's awesome "Reddick" character out of the show. Here's hoping that the FOX network's Fringe turns into a multi-season success, catapulting Abaddon into the pantheon of eight steadily working African-American actors. But, could the writers have come up with a more inglorious exit for the character than aping Driving Miss Daisy? And, to see Reddick felled with a shotgun blast just reeks of sloppiness on the part of Widmore – a man who seems to have planned for every circumstance.

Let's just put all the Walt stuff right here: (1) Maybe it's the puberty, but Malcolm David Kelley's awkward line readings were downright brutal. I can see trying to convey confusion and nerves in the context of the scene, but it didn't look like he was acting there. (2) Considering all the trauma Walt has endured, he sure seemed, I dunno…indifferent towards seeing the one person he bonded with on the island besides his father. (3) Walt hasn't seen his last living parent in years. And, his inquiry to Locke about his dad's whereabouts was tantamount to "Ya seen my old man, around? Tell him I said 'hey'."

I guess it's too late for me to avoid turning into "that guy", but come on. Locke's personal chauffeur is blown away in hail of gunfire, blood and broken glass. In a panic, Locke is able to seamlessly jump from the back seat to the front seat (with a broken leg), start the car, put it in drive and get the hell out of there in less than six seconds?

OK…I always catch hell when I say things like this, but I could see Ben's murderous swerve coming a mile away. Jin's alive? Hmmm. Eloise Hawking? Hawking? She's the one to see about getting back to the island? Oh, and you have to die, you say? Let me process all this mentally…got it. Now, die!

Verdict: This was actually a pretty strong episode, with most of my criticisms amounting to a pile of nitpicking. Locke's chronic gullibility never gets old and the hope here is that his resurrection finally - finally - propels him to realizing his "importance" and at long last pushing back on those who've pulled his puppet strings for the past five seasons.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Aaron's iFAQ #5: What Won't Aaron Eat?

J.C. writes:

Hey Bootleg Guy

[That Mexican Guy] turned me on to your blog and I just wanted to say how much I enjoy it. Having never met you, I'll have to take your word that the "current weight" that accompanies your food reviews is the truth. Is there anything you won't eat?

Welcome! I (heart) new readers. And, for what it's worth, the "how much do you REALLY weigh?" question ranks a distant third behind the "why don't you write about music anymore" inquiry and "do a radio version of the baseball broadcasters series" demand.

Anyways, the "current weight" is always accurate and up-to-date. I peaked at 190 lbs. on New Year's Day 2007, got down to 163 lbs. late last year and have settled in between 165-170 lbs. Biggest sacrifices? I stopped drinking three beers every night after dinner and gave up ginormously greasy lunches. "Is there anything I won't eat?" You bet'cha:

(1) Eggs cooked any way other than "scrambled" or "omelet": The morning of my wedding, my groomsmen and I got breakfast at a regional chain restaurant. One of my boys ordered a stack of pancakes with eggs, over-easy. He proceeded to dunk forkfuls of pancake into the runny yolk of his eggs. To this day, the image sickens me.

(2) Fruit-based pies that ain't apple: The slimy, phlegmy texture of boysenberry pie or cherry cheesecake has never done it for me. Canned fruit topping is an abomination of nature, but the religious right would rather protest cloning and gay marriage.

(3) Sour phallic symbols: Funny thing about me – I wouldn't turn down a hot dog topped with relish. I'm marginally OK with pickle slices if they sneak onto a hamburger I've ordered. But, the notion of eating a whole pickle is just…gross. I f*****g love real deli sandwiches (yeah, yeah…"there are no real delis in California! Brooklyn, WHAT! New York, stand up!") and, for the life of me, I'll never know what a whole pickle adds to the experience.

(4) …and speaking of deli meats.: Whenever I tell someone that I really don't like pastrami or corned beef, their response is ALWAYS the same: "You've never had GOOD pastrami or corned beef." For years, I fell for this pro-beef propaganda, before realizing that turkey – with a bacon chaser – is the money meat for big ass sandwiches.

(5) Blue collar beer: Gotta tread carefully here. So, Mrs. Bootleg has these friends. Nice couple, good people, the wife is blazin'. The problem isn't the cheap beer they serve at barbecues, birthday parties and other assorted functions. It's that it always comes in a can. Pour it in a glass and I'll pound away with the rest of the functioning drunkards. In a can, I just can't. (See what I did there?)

(6) Not a fan of the "dark meat": Once a week, every week for the 20 years I lived with my parents, chicken was served for dinner. Back then, there were only two ways humans knew how to cook it: fried or barbecued. True to the infamous Chris Rock bit, my dad got the big piece (breast). My brother always got the other breast. My mom took the two wings, which left me with a two-piece mix n' match of legs and thighs. The first thing that then-Girlfriend Bootleg ever cooked for me was baked boneless, skinless chicken breasts and I never looked back. True story: I once went to Popeye's and ordered a 12-piece box, all white meat. They had to bring the manager over figure out how to ring up the order. Is this really that unusual?

(7) The "salad" that shouldn't be: My mother also served up carrot-raisin salad, usually as an accompaniment to chicken night. I will never comprehend this concoction. An unholy union of fruit and vegetable – it's sweet like a dessert would be, yet lacks the inherent deliciousness of any dessert. Similarly, it brings none of a salad's awesomeness (blue cheese dressing, bacon bits and/or greasy croutons) to the table. THIS is why I moved out of my parents' house. Well, this and the need for privacy during sex. Those were the top two reasons.

(8) Chitlins, chicken gizzards, neck bones and ox tail: Black people…it's 2009. Quit eatin' the entire animal.

(9) Breaking news: liver and Brussels sprouts: The great thing is that Mrs. Bootleg loves liver. She made it often for her last boyfriend before she met me. Once I brought my light-skinned, house Negro sensibilities into her life, she had to give it up. Now ask me if I've ever given up anything I like for her? Nope!

As for Brussels sprouts, I hadn't touched 'em since I was 10. A few years ago, I went to the VIP opening of Stone Brewing's restaurant and was offered a serving of fried garlic Brussels sprouts. "I don't like Brussels sprouts", I told the server. "You'll LOVE these", he responded. "They're especially made for people who DON'T like them." So, I popped on in my mouth. Then, popped it right back out. When garlic and grease can't save it…

(10) Chicken Noodle Soup: I blame the fact that the only chicken noodle soup I ever knew came in a Campbell's can, swimming in that salty piss-colored broth. Consequently, when the soup mood strikes me, I'm prone to go with any other offering. Yes, most of them start with "cream of" or end in "chowder". I'd also include split pea, tomato and anything else no one over the age of eight would ever order. This just sealed the deal.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Dear Mr. President, Tell Me What to Do..."

Caught President Obama's speech tonight. Now, I know why never watch these things. The "spontaneous" partisan applause that breaks out every 90 seconds. More standing and sitting and standing than a Catholic wedding. The post-speech autograph session?!

I'm sure most of tomorrow's water cooler conversation will revolve around Obama's awkward tiptoe through the weeds of nationalized banking and government-run health care, but for a few seconds, the President was speaking directly to me:

In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father who will attend those parent-teacher conferences, or help with homework after dinner, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, and read to their child. I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home.

Hey, I read to my son! I do one of those things!

Monday, February 23, 2009

San Diego, The NBA, Sunshine and Race

With the help of some grammatically inappropriate subterfuge, I'd like to come clean and say: I don't not like's Bill Simmons. I admit this while conceding there are things about him and his style that just…OK, OK, Simmons criticism has been done to death.

I come to praise Bill Simmons and – specifically – his often-excellent podcasts. I download his stuff to my iPod and spend the AM answering work-related emails while listening to him riff on sports and pop culture. Look, I'm not trying to sell anyone on the guy. You either like him and read him or claim to not like him (while still reading him). That's cool.

Last Monday, Simmons and his buddy Joe House spent more than an hour talking about the NBA's All Star Weekend. Since I haven't regularly followed the NBA in over 15 years, I mostly zoned in and out, counting down the minutes until my earbuds could play Crooked I or The Game again (sorry, Mathan).

Towards the end, Simmons segued on to the subject of San Diego and my adopted hometown's lack of an NBA team. According to Simmons, there are a handful of teams in the league that could be candidates to relocate in the next few years. However, Simmons shot down the notion that the Memphis Grizzlies or New Orleans Hornets could be dialing "619" any time soon.

Simmons offered up two reasons – from a "connected" NBA source – for San Diego's relative unattractiveness to the NBA. The first (and I'm paraphrasing here) is that the city's perfect climate and infinite year-round outdoor opportunities tamps down any desire San Diego's denizens might have to go indoors for a few hours. The second reason was tied to San Diego's absence of a "financial industry" to buy up club seating and luxury suites.

If I may rebut.

As to the first point…it's about 120 miles from San Diego to Los Angeles. I'm not a meteorologist, so you'll just have to take my word on this: the weather in LA is eerily similar to the weather in San Diego. According to, Monday's forecast for San Diego is 71 degrees and partly cloudy. Monday's forecast for Los Angeles is…71 degrees and partly cloudy. The Lakers (and, ironically, the Clippers) draw pretty damn well considering LA gets the same 338 days of mild sunshine as we do in San Diego.

I don't even know what to make of the second point. Sure, San Diego doesn't have the ubiquitous financial district of NBA economic powers like New York, Boston…and Oklahoma City. Bastions of fiscal stability, one and all. All we've got is Qualcomm – the largest private-sector technology employer in the county and secure enough to buy out the naming rights to Jack Murphy Stadium for 20 years (through 2017). San Diego is also home to the strongest biotech industry in the country, to say nothing of the enormously lucrative defense (woo!) and manufacturing industries here.

When the Padres conned San Diego into building Petco Park, the team sold out all 6,000 personal seat licenses to well-heeled businesses and individuals. An amazing accomplishment considering that PSLs are a sucker-bet investment for those who buy them – all of the future risk is on the buyer. In fact, there's no shortage of PSL resellers looking to get out from under these cash siphons.

That said, Simmons is actually right about the NBA and San Diego. It's just his reasoning that's wrong.

The NBA had a team in San Diego for ten seasons. The Rockets played here from 1968-1971 before leaving for Houston. They were followed by the Buffalo Braves, who moved to San Diego in 1978, changed their name to the Clippers then moved north in 1984. Those teams combined for a .372 winning percentage here with one winning season.

The only thing worse than the basketball was the home court where it was played.

The San Diego Sports Arena opened in November 1966 and I'm reasonably certain that's the last time it was cleaned. It's a filthy eyesore that – to put it kindly – is the JFK Airport of indoor entertainment locations. Unfortunately, the only other basketball venues in town are Cox Arena (on the campus of San Diego State) and the Jenny Craig Pavilion (University of San Diego). The former seats about 12,000 (~7,000 more than the latter) but neither possesses the infrastructure or practicality to host pro ball.

Second, and more importantly, San Diego would never support the perception of the NBA. Y'see, I've lived in this city since 1995. I met my wife here, we're raising our son here, I love it here. This is also one of the most conservative enclaves in the country and one that would never get behind the tatted-up urban streetball league that everyone thinks the NBA has become.

This city likes its African-American athletes to be humble, soft-spoken and non-threatening with an absence of bling, body art and bombast. This is why Tony Gwynn is "Mr. Padre" despite his couldn't-give-a-damn approach to conditioning. This is why LaDanian Tomlinson gets a lifetime pass for his playoff MIAs and infamous "classy" comment. San Diego sports fans would rather their teams lose with a squad of choir boys than win with ONE bad apple.

Or someone that looks like one.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Three Things I'd Change About MLB Network's Joe Lemire wrote a glowingly positive review of the MLB Network's first 50-some days on the air. It's a little over-the-top and I can't say I agree with everything (I'll believe the network "is no house organ" the next first time any of the talking heads criticizes a team for signing, say, Raul Ibanez to a three-year $30 million deal), but as I noted last month, Bud Selig and baseball inexplicably got this right.

I've got three constructive suggestions I'd like to see implemented going forward, though.

(1) Documentary Interviewee Camera Angle - I've been absolutely blown away by MLB Network's Baseball's Season series. Most recently, the archival Rickey footage from the "1982" show and a rare televised appearance from the reclusive Bo Jackson discussing the White Sox's 1993 season have been awesome to watch. That said…what's with the interview subjects staring straight into the camera? From my living room, it looks like high-definition hostage footage. Can't someone seat them just off-center and angle their eyes away from my soul? No more reverse voyeurism.

(2) Classic Games On-Screen Scores - As I type this, I'm watching a re-broadcast of Gaylord Perry's 300th win in May 1982. I'm not sure what I love most: the pullover polyester uniforms, the nascent days of the jock jheri curl or the news that "top Yankees prospect Steve Balboni" had just been called up from Triple-A Columbus. MLB Network utilizes the VH-1 Pop-Up Video thingie with occasional on-screen factoids, too. I'd like to see it taken one step further with the insertion of a permanent, unobtrusive score/inning graphic onscreen, as well. I get that the "classic" games are more about celebrating a specific achievement, but when my son asks me what the score is…

(3) The "Baseball Tonight" Moments - The Network's Hot Stove show is changing its name to MLB Tonight as we get closer to the start of the regular season. I'm not crazy about the format – one traditional studio host with a rotation of three ex-ballplayers offering clich├ęd "analysis" – but, the show's got potential to be more than the caricature that ESPN's Baseball Tonight has turned into. Recently, the analysts were asked to pick the best closer in baseball and, in the classically forced banter of televised sports talk, everyone picked a different guy. Just like always. In another discussion about the absence of players wearing glasses, everyone on the set wore an ironic set of specs. It was as unfunny as it sounds.

Friday, February 20, 2009

TBG Drinks: 1554 Enlightened Black Ale

Brewed By: New Belgium Brewing
Brewed In: Fort Collins, CO
Type: Belgian Dark Ale
ABV: 5.6%

What They Say: "Born of a flood and centuries-old Belgian text, 1554 Enlightened Black Ale uses a light lager yeast strain and dark chocolaty malts to redefine what dark beer can be. A highly quaffable dark beer with a moderate body and mouthfeel."

Website: I covered New Belgium's website in my review of 2° Below.

Why I Picked It: I've previously declared my unabashed adoration for New Belgium's Fat Tire. A few weeks back, I sampled their seasonal Mighty Arrow pale ale (review forthcoming!). Afterwards, I determined that New Belgium can do no wrong when it comes to beer and, given a week or two, could probably fix the economy and cure the common cold. BevMo was selling 22 oz. bottles of 1554 for $2.00, so of course…Aaron's on board.


Presentation (5): Given the back story behind the creation of 1554, the label's artwork is both appropriate and appealing. And, how infrequently does the image of a glass of beer actually appear on a bottle? 4

Originality (5): 1554's origin is probably the most unique thing about it. As a Belgian dark ale, it can be found with dozens and dozens of other similar entries on the shelves of any halfway decent adult beverage emporium. 1

Body (10): Pours dark brown (not unlike a liquefied Akon) with a wispy, nearly invisible head and not a lick of lacing. A lot less…oh, I don't know…"substantial" than I thought it would be. Average, but underwhelming. 4

Taste (10): It finishes nice and dry, but the flavors here seem muddled and muted. The chocolates and malts are practically an afterthought with a watery mouthfeel and not much else. My wife – who has often recoiled in horror from sampling some of the "beer snob" beers I've bought recently – actually had several sips and seemed to like it. Is that a bad sign? I'll let you decide. 4

Efficiency (10): Very. 1554 goes down by the gulp without any of that pesky "flavor" or "complexity" getting in the way. It'll get you to where you want to go, but let's just say it ain't the scenic route. 8

Versatility (10): As someone who isn't all righteously indignant towards light beers, I say this as high praise – 1554 can be enjoyed in pretty much the same way as one would with any Coors Light-endorsed activity. Unexceptional? Sure. But, unpretentious and uncomplicated are worth something, too. 8

Grade: 29 (out of 50) – OK beer

The above format has been lifted with permission from That Beer Snob Guy.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

TBG TV: Lost - "316"

The Good:

The entire fifth season has seen this show slowly embrace its fantasy/sci-fi inner child. The opening scene at "The Lamppost", however, indicates that any plot device previously deemed implausible is now in play. And, if that point wasn't hammered home, Eloise Hawking's "Stop thinking how ridiculous it is…" line sealed the deal.

In an episode where the dialogue – once again – sunk to a new nadir, the early favorite for second-finest single line of the season goes to Eloise's deadpan "Probably not" in response to a question about Ben's trustworthiness.

It took nearly 50 minutes, but someone was gracious enough to finally acknowledge the whole "hey, if this flight to Guam is doomed, what'll happen to everyone else?" elephant-in-the-room.

The Bad:

Ummm…what exactly did Jack do to "save" a flailing Hurley from drowning in the lagoon? They showed the scene twice and both times, it appeared that the mere sight of Jack was all it took for Hurley to figure out the whole "fat floats" corollary.

Worst line of the season? How 'bout Desmond's howlingly awful "You say the island is not done with me? Well, I'M done with the island."

OK…I'm just one of a zillion different hacks with a lightly-read blog who offers up occasionally empty, occasionally constructive criticism. Maybe I have no earthly idea what I'm talking about, but me thinks it's bit late in the game to be introducing Jack's "Granddad Ray" into the storyline and especially for such a contrived one-shot purpose.

I will now summarize the bedroom scene between Jack and Kate:

Kate: "I'm going back to the island after steadfastly refusing to go and calling you crazy for wanting to go back."

Jack: "Great! Hey, where's Aaron – that toddler you brought back with you from the island? Remember? You convinced yourself that he was your son. The writers have used him as a plot device to dictate your every decision since the start of the fourth season. Remember?"

Kate: "Don't ever ask me about him again."

Jack: "'K."

Kate: "Let's have sex."

Jack: "Giggedy."

So, Sayid's apparently under federal custody of some kind (just like Kate in season one!). He's in the care of a female officer/agent of some kind (just like Ana Lucia in season two!). I'm betting that Sayid was responsible for Ben's beatdown (didn't Sayid torture Ben in season two?) Are we really sure that this show is ever going to end?

Verdict: The gigantic narrative gaps during this episode's "46 hours earlier" period are all that's keeping me from crapping all over this one. I'm OK with the whole "a few answers, even more questions" approach, but at some point we need "pencils down" and a consistent forward progress. The inevitable introduction of new island characters has been a huge hit (Ben, Miles, Faraday) or a ginormous miss (Ana Lucia, Libby, Nikki/Paolo) and the writers are running out of time to salvage the story if things go awry.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

TBG Drinks: Stone Smoked Porter

Brewed By: Stone Brewing Company
Brewed In: Escondido, CA
Type: American Porter
ABV: 5.9%

What They Say: "Our Smoked Porter has a captivatingly deep mahogany color, complimented by silky dark tan head. Rich, full bodied and robust. Smooth, with chocolate and coffee-like flavors balanced by the subtle "smoky" character of just the right amount of peat-smoked specialty malt."

Website: Stone Brewing's main page remains a bit busy for my liking. But, once you've waded through the brewery's self-promotion and event hyping, there's some (relatively) straightforward no-frills information to be found. You've got brand and brewery history, directions to the place, recent photos and press releases and a classily uncomplicated section on their individual beers.

Why I Picked It: I'm still trying to kick the training wheels from my palette, so I remain reliant on the recommendations of friends and other functioning alcoholics. A few Saturdays ago, I walked down the hill to our local Baron's Market with my son in tow. While standing dumbfounded in front of their Great Wall of Beers, another customer assessed my indecision and casually suggested the Smoked Porter. Thank you, white stranger!


Presentation (5): Stone's iconic 'roided Gargoyle logo is fast becoming my most trusted advertising companion. I haven't been this excited about something so grotesque since August 29, 1990. The contrast between the bottle's dark content and blue trim is immediately eye-catching. 5

Originality (5): On a lark, I entered "smoked porter" into Google. My best guess (and remember: I am the product of a state-run university) is that 80% of the hits on the first five pages were for the Stone Brewing brand. Original? Not in the truest sense of the word, I guess. But, there's something to be said for trendsetting, y'know? 4

Body (10): Pours a deep, rich brown with a fair amount of lacing. The medium thickness and pillowy, peanut-butter-colored head showed off this beer's strong foundation and smooth edges. On aesthetics alone, this is the brew that you'd want to be seen holding in your hand. 10

Taste (10): Good complexity without any of the flavors ever overwhelming my mouth. Moderate smokiness shares real estate with unsweetened chocolate and a very mild coffee finish. Damned if I didn't recognize a drizzling of vanilla and a dash of sweet cream in there, also. This, my friends, is what angels must taste like. 10

Efficiency (10): This isn't your creepy neighbor's home-brewed, cookie-dough chewy porter. The smoothness here belies everything your nose and eyes might try to tell you. And, with an ABV just a tick under six, the opportunity is there to get a quantity-based buzz from an unquestionably quality product. 9

Versatility (10): I can't go with a ten, simply because of the amount of time it would take me to convince my friends that this, indeed, is a versatile beer. Don't be scared off by the brand or the scents or the shade. One or two pints will do you just fine at the bar or the backyard barbecue. 8

Grade: 46 (out of 50) – Amazing beer

The above format has been lifted with permission from That Beer Snob Guy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

TBG Eats: Burger Shots from Burger King

Current Weight: 168.0 lbs.

We don't have White Castle out here in California, so the whole "slider" concept is pretty much lost on me.

The West Coast version of "4:00 AM food" is hole-in-the-wall Mexican, not a sack of ten teeny burgers that couldn't possibly fill anyone up. Seriously, wouldn't one enormous bacon double cheeseburger be a better post-pub crawl call than "Burger McNuggets"? Gotta be an East Coast thing – along with foldable pizza, food from street vendors and the inexplicable geographic pride you locals take in foldable pizza and food from street vendors.

Thankfully, the good people at Burger King have no shame and willfully spit in the eye of New Yorkers and Chicagoans with the introduction of "Burger Shots".

Sold in two-packs (Tupac!) and six-packs (like beer…or this guy!), BK's Burger Shots are topped with a spittle of mustard n' ketchup and then a single slice of pickle. A sliver…a sliver of cheese is extra.

Every other Burger Shots review says the same thing: if you've had one BK burger, you're not eating anything innovative here. True, but I would add:

(1) Mustard on a hamburger is just…wrong, somehow. I didn't always feel this way and I'm not sure when my light-skinned azz became ironically averse to the color yellow, but there ya go. If I'd known, I'd have had 'em hold it.

(2) I've eaten the frozen and deep fried (frozen) version of White Castles and while I freely concede that they ain't the originals, I'm pretty sure it's the finely diced onions that elicit most of the cholesterol-laden love. Too much to ask, BK? Probably…but, since I'm not really a pickle guy, either…

(3) Not to belabor the point, but a Whopper Jr. is $1.00 (without cheese). A Makaveli of Burger Shots sin queso is $1.39. The Whopper Jr. with a side of Dollar Menu onion rings (and ring sauce) is arguably the best fast food bang-for-your buck deal in America today. On certain days, I might be convinced to endorse the inexpensive awesome that is Taco Bell's Beef & Potato Burrito and a side of Triple Layer Nachos, but the point is…wait, I forgot. Oh, yeah, the point is there are better dollar-stretching options than Burger Shots.

Not awful.

Not incredible.

Not something I'd order again.

Grade: 2 (out of 5)

Friday, February 13, 2009

TBG TV: Lost - "This Place is Death"

The Good:

That was a superbly suspenseful few seconds between Jin and the French team realizing Nadine was missing and Jin's acknowledgement of the smoke monster. The camerawork was especially claustrophobic; slowly closing in until Jin's "RUN!" shattered the silence.

I was ready to crap all over the absurd tug-of-war between the French team and the smoke monster right up until dude's arm is ripped off. Just a gloriously gory (by non-cable television standards) visual and a much more effective way of conveying the monster as a threat than the cartoonish way it killed off Mr. Eko back in the third season.

Loved when Ben pulled the van over to confront the open conversation Jack and Sun were having about…killing Ben. All that was missing was a bug-eyed turn with Ben blurting out, "I'm right here, y'know!"

Sometimes, a little exposition goes a long way. Charlotte's scene with Faraday was well done, with more background on her character than we've ever gotten to this point and the added bonus of accompanying answers with more questions. Faraday as a crazy old man? Sweet!

I'm gonna miss m'girl Charlotte. On the one hand, she was actually an interesting character, so I wasn't rooting for her demise as I was with Boone, Shannon, Charlie, Ana Lucia, Libby and, hopefully, Hurley. On the other, most of the island deaths have – to date – been pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of the storyline. Charlotte's demise actually seems tied to the eventual endgame, so I'll refrain from ripping it. For now.

"He's Korean. I'm from Encino."

The Bad:

I will NOT stop making this point: Sun isn't the least bit believable in her "Sun Bradshaw Layfield" heel CEO role. This ill-fitting character development isn't helped when the script requires her to wield a gun, as she did throughout most of this episode. There hasn't been a less-threatening chick packing heat the since this.

Could've done without that silly scene where an exasperated Jin channels his inner Ricky Ricardo and goes off on a rant in his native tongue, with everyone else standing around looking for a translator.

The whole scene where the Oceanic Six essentially goes their separate ways was just…awkward. I mean, I get why Kate won't do Ben any favors and – to a lesser extent – why Sayid wants nothing to do with him, either. But, the execution was especially clunky. Did we really need this contrived conflict to draw the storyline out? They're all going to end up going back to the island, right? If saving their friends isn't a compelling enough reason to win over those who are resistant, I'd love to know what eventually gets 'em to change their minds.

The climactic scene between Jin and Locke was…well, I'm torn. Jin was convincing, practically begging Locke not to bring Sun back to the island, but why on earth would any of the survivors trust Locke at this point? He's clearly established as being only out for his – and, more importantly, the island's – best interests. Don't say I didn't warn you, Jin.

Verdict: This episode has been negatively shredded by a lot of fans online, but I dug it. Though not as good as last week's outing, I'm liking the layering of the past (specifically, the Rousseau arc) with the present. I've even been beaten into submission – with reluctant acceptance – on the time traveling flashes of doom thingie. Next week promises an awful lot of Jack, though. I'll be hatin' again, soon enough.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Once Loved Roberto Alomar

It took a bombshell to break up the cacophony of self-congratulatory sportswriter backslapping in the aftermath of the shocking news that someone other than Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Canseco and Clemens took steroids.

I'm normally numb to the tawdry tabloid side of sports and entertainment, but today's mind-blowing story involving future Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar possibly carrying the AIDS virus and knowingly…man, I just can't get my head around this.

Y'see, we knew about Robbie here in California long before the rest of the baseball world. Even in an age when the game was broadcast almost exclusively on a local basis, we'd heard of Alomar's exploits despite – in my case – only seeing him play when his Padres faced the Dodgers on KTTV, Channel 11 out of Los Angeles.

Alomar was a base-stealing sparkplug in San Diego before taking a quantum leap forward after being traded to Toronto during the 1990 Winter Meetings. (I still remember the short-lived sports daily The National proclaiming the Alomar/Joe Carter-for-Tony Fernandez/Fred McGriff swap as simply "The Biggest Trade in Years" on its front page.)

Starting in 1991, Alomar went on an incredible 11-year run in which he made the All Star team every year from '91 through 2001, won ten Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers and the 1992 ALCS Most Valuable Player award as he single-handedly ended my Oakland A's ersatz dynasty once and for all.

He was the greatest second baseman I ever saw. Alomar's range to his left was so wide that the Jays could've made a legitimate case – on defense AND offense – for playing without shortstop Manny Lee in an eight-man lineup from 1991-92.

Still, I'll always remain puzzled by Alomar's carpetbag career. At the risk of forgetting anyone more obvious, he might end up as the first ever "hired gun Hall of Famer". During his 17-year career, Alomar never spent more than five years with any of the eight different teams he played for (which doesn't include his ill-fated 2005 spring training with Tampa Bay).

Alomar hit .336/.415/.541 with the Indians in 2001 at the age of 33. The very next season, he was done. Oh, he played for three more years, but that was solely on his reputation. This wasn't a precipitous drop-off. This was a drop-dead. He retired before the start of the '05 season.

Now, nearly 20 years after Magic Johnson's seminal announcement, I'm hoping against hope that one of my top five favorite non-Oakland A's of all time isn't carrying the virus. I know it's selfish to feel this way. I know he's being accused of a horrific act.

Maybe it's because I've known people who've lived with this disease and known people who've died from it, too. Maybe it's because I'm finding it increasingly difficult to imagine a time – 10 or 20 years from now – when I'm romanticizing the players I watched in my youth without wondering if the steroid era rendered my memories moot.

In his only comment on the matter today, Roberto Alomar says he's in "good health", but doesn't directly dispute the AIDS claim.

I'm rooting for you, Robbie. Now, more than ever.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Your 2009 AL West Champions?

Baseball Prospectus has released their PECOTA-based team projections for 2009. My Oakland A's are currently pegged to win the AL West at 82-80. PECOTA, for those who don't know, is BP's proprietary predictive system:

"[It] stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm. PECOTA projects player performance based on comparison with thousands of historical player-seasons. Analyzes similarities with past player-seasons based not only on rate statistics, but also height, weight, age, and many other factors."

Two seasons ago, PECOTA famously nailed a 72-90 projection for the 2007 Chicago White Sox. Last year, it saw through the ill-advised Mariners hype and called Tampa Bay's improvement before anyone else.

Still…first place for the A's?

Just so we're clear, PECOTA, you do know that this team features offensive question marks on both infield corners (Daric Barton, Eric Chavez) and an absolute suckhole of suck at shortstop (Bobby Crosby), right? In the outfield, there's the underrated/overrated conundrum known as Jack Cust, while the A's can't be expecting more than league average production out of 2B and CF (Mark Ellis, Ryan Sweeney).

BP frowns on anyone reprinting their individual player projections, so I'll just say that even PECOTA doesn't think the A's starting rotation will make it through an entire season, with every starter predicted to finish with an ERA north of 4.00 (or 5.00!).

And, did you hear that the Angels are this close to signing Bobby Abreu?

My October appears to still be open.

Monday, February 9, 2009

TBG Drinks: Bourbon County Brand Stout

Brewed By: Goose Island Beer Company
Brewed In: Chicago, Illinois
Type: Imperial Stout
ABV: 13.0%(!)

What They Say: "A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer. It overpowers anything in the room."

Website: Don't be fooled by the unimaginative main page with its barren "events" section and infinitesimal reference to Goose Island's line of soft drinks. The links are actually interesting. The "Goose Island Beers" tab takes you to their food/beer selector; a step-by-step guide through their beer crafting process or the origin of the brand. There's also a "Chicago Guide" tab that serves as a one-stop (albeit, oversimplified) resource for fans who may want to visit the Goose Island brewery in the Windy City.

Why I Picked It: About a month ago, I received a most orgasmic e-mail from "JPinAZ" who graciously thought of me while still basking in Bourbon County's afterglow. These days, my cocktail of choice is Maker's Mark on the rocks or anything mixed with Knob Creek, so the bourbon n' beer connection was a no-brainer. And, let me tell you, the story of sending my wife on an obscure beer run is a blog post all its own.


Presentation (5): The Goose Island logo loops around the neck of the bottle and is really the only distinctive presenting piece. The words "Bourbon County Brand Stout" are crammed into the middle of a descriptive quote (in much smaller text) from the brewmaster, giving the look a misplaced newspaper headline within the body of the story. It actually works, since stouts don't need no fancy-dan superfluities. 4

Originality (5): I'm pretty sure this was my first ever stout. I've since learned that the union of beer with bourbon ("the brownest of the brown liquors!") barrels isn't exactly a new idea. Still, my bias to all things bourbon skews my view a bit here. 3

Body (10): Thick, viscous and f'n glorious. It pours with a thin, coffee-colored head that almost instantly dissipates. I'm told that there are much denser stouts out there, but for my money, there's something to be said for striking a balance between strong mouthfeel and motor oil. 10

Taste (10): I've read some other reviews that bitch about the pronounced bourbon-osity here, which leads me to believe some of these beer snobs should get off the internet, climb out of their mother's basements/home breweries and embrace the awesome of other alcoholic beverages. The bourbon flavor IS strong and that's a good thing. The dark chocolate, molasses and oak give way to an amazing vanilla finish. 10

Efficiency (10): Therein lies the rub. Here in San Diego, it's only sold in packs of four 12 oz. bottles. For $20. And, at five dollars a bottle – ounce for ounce – that's borderline ballpark/airport pricing for a brew that lacks poundability and is an automatic .08 breath test. If ever there was a beer that would live up to that "pop rocks and Coca-Cola" myth, it's this one. 2

Versatility (10): OK, this is not a versatile beer. That said, for stout virgins, it's not a bad way to get indoctrinated. And, I dare say that stout vets can appreciate it, too. A good fit for the sampler (in moderation) or the snob. 4

Grade: 33 (out of 50) – Good beer

The above format has been lifted with permission from That Beer Snob Guy.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

TBG TV: Lost - "The Little Prince"

The Good:

The frenetic pacing of this episode lent itself well to the sense of urgency the characters should've been feeling for the past few weeks. Before last night, there was simply too much time-traveling exposition that didn't lead anywhere. While we may not have gotten any more answers – albeit nose bleeds, aplenty! – for the first time this season, the "island flashes" were used to effectively move things along and added a layer or two of development to some of the staler characters in the cast.

Ken Leung's "Miles" continues to do more with less than any other character on the show. His one-liners ("I think they want their boat back.") are acerbically hilarious and his stunned reaction to Faraday's nose bleed explanation was a terrific take.

I'll come clean on this one: After bashing the silly mash angle between Sawyer and Kate, the scene with Sawyer happening upon Kate and Claire was well done. Poignant, even. And, the best part: the emotion was passed along without any of the dopey dialogue that's been a frequent annoyance this season.

The two-fisted Jin/Rousseau reveal was brilliantly executed. I'd mocked last week's Widmore reveal as being just thrown out there, but this time I'm digging that it felt like it was out of nowhere and sure to produce more questions than answers in the short term.

The Bad:

I'm the last person on earth to come to this realization, but I finally figured out why I hates me some Kate: she's been painted as a sympathetic character the last two seasons, when she's really just a baby-stealing, father-killing, Sawyer-n-Jack tag team tramp who is pound-for-pound the worst actor on the show. So, she tells Jack, "I've have ALWAYS been with you." Really? Really?! Come ON, comeuppance.

OK…I made this point last year and was roundly shouted down by Ken Tremendous and others in the blogosphere cafeteria – I still don't buy Sun as the conniving Ben-hunting manipulator. I'm not denying her motivation, it's just that Yunjin Kim is doing a terrible job of emotionally conveying it beyond pursing her lips and shifting her supple scowl from side to side.

So, even after "three doses of horse tranquilizers" knocked Sayid out cold for hours (days?), he's able to wake up, snap out of his groggy state and go all Iraqi Jack Bauer on a would-be assassin. Aaaaaand, how did his people lose Operation Desert Storm, again?

Hurley in ill-fitting orange prison issues = not funny. I hope all you Hurley fans remember these throwaway sight gags and his generally porcine uselessness the next time the writers try to turn Hugo Reyes into something more than sweaty comic relief.

What was WITH those exaggerated facial expressions from Claire's mom (Susan Duerden) after Jack asked her what she was doing in Los Angeles?

Verdict: I've been cool on Season Five, but this episode erased my apathy in about an hour. The storytelling between the Oceanic Six and the remaining castaways was equitably balanced, while not even the ongoing uninteresting adventures of Jack and Kate could bring this down. A balls-out episode that kept things moving and, hopefully, builds momentum the rest of the way.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Wednesday Music News Bootleg

I've got this friend…known him for more than 20 years. We went to the same junior high school and high school. We played some sandlot baseball together. We were in each other's weddings. I'm Black, he's white. I'm a liberal moderate living in California, while he moved to Arizona for the liberal gun laws and Sonic restaurants. And, until now, I had no idea that he…well, let's turn this over to "JPinAZ":

"OK Cam, I'm looking for some music & am coming to you. Anyways, in order to give you where my tastes lie in the area of hip-hop/rap/whatever the kid's are calling now here's what I've picked up in the last year or so from Emusic.

Deltron 3030 - Deltron 3030
Dizzee Rascal - Maths + English
Hieroglyphics - Third Eye Vision
DJ Shadow - The Outsider
K'Naan - The Dusty Foot Philosopher
Lyrics Born - Everywhere At Once
J Dilla - Ruff Draft
J Dilla - The Shining
The Mighty Underdogs - Droppin' Science Fiction
Mick Boogie/Busta Rhymes - Dillagence
Mistah FAB - All Star Season
Dizzee Rascal - Bon in da Corner
Gift of Gab - 4th Dimensional Rocktetships Going UP
J Dilla - Jay Deelicious 95-98 The Delicious Vinyl Years
J Dilla - Welcome 2 Detroit
Latyrix - The Album
Lyrics Born - Later That Day
The Mighty Underdogs - The Prelude EP
Prince Paul - Psychoanalysis
Raphael Saadiq - All Hits At The House of Blues
Santogold - Santogold
V/A - SoleSides Greatest Bumps
DJ Danger Mouse/Jay-Z - The Grey Album
Kid Koala - Some of My Best Friends Are DJs
RJD2 - Deadringer
RJD2 - Since We Last Spoke
DJ Cam - Liquid Hip Hop

Some albums I have on my want list:
Molemen - Killing Fields
Del the Funky Homosapien - Future Development
Madvillan - Madvillany
Souls of Mischief - Trilogy: Conflict, Climax, Resolution
Anything by Eric B & Rakim

A few other artists I like are J5, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Anthony Hamilton, Dan the Automator, Blackalicious, & Bomb the Bass.

I'm probably the last person you expected an email like this from, but there you have it.

My initial reaction? Guh-WHA?! After hauling my jaw off the floor, I started to really look at his list. J Dilla…Deltron 3030…The Grey Album…these artists and albums sounded familiar. Truth be told, I've heard and/or own many of the above, but there was another common bond between lots of them.

So, I've got this other friend…known him for about five years. We wrote together at 411mania, then Inside Pulse. We argued music and politics and racial sociology over IM and this was before I finally met him while on a business trip to Las Vegas a few years ago. He also introduced me to much of the above music through his long-running column.

Y'all remember Mathan, right? Let's see, there was Comic Book Mathan and TV Mathan and Moodspins Mathan and…Music Mathan. Speaking of whom, there was NO ONE more qualified to respond:

Here are some albums I think your friend might like.

You dig J Dilla, check out:
Slum Village – Fantastic Vol 2
Jaylib – Champion Sound
J Dilla - Donuts

You dig Prince Paul & Dan the Automator, check out:
Handsome Boy Modeling School – So, How's Your Girl?
Handsome Boy Modeling School – White People

You dig Deltron 3030, check out:
Prince Paul – A Prince Among Thieves
Prince Paul – Politics of the Business
Janelle Monae – The Metropolis Suite
Masta Ace – Disposable Arts

You dig Dizzee Rascal, try:
Something by The Streets. It's not grime, but it's good.

You dig The Grey Album, try:
Nas + 9th Wonder – God's Stepson

You dig ATCQ & De La Soul, try:
Little Brother – The Listening
Little Brother – The Minstrel Show
Anything by The Roots
De La Soul – The Grind Date

You dig Welcome 2 Detroit, try:
Pete Rock – Petesrtumentals
Marley Marl – Re-Entry
King Britt – Adventures in Lo-fi
DJ Jazzy Jeff – The Magnificent
DJ Spinna – From Here to There
Will I Am – Lost Change
(Those were the other "Beat Generation Albums)
DJ Jazzy Jeff – Return of the Magnificent

Other random good stuff you might like:
Murs – Murs 3:16
Murs – Murray's Revenge
Dangerdoom – The Mouse & The Mask
Jean Grae – Jeanius
Quasimoto – The Unseen
Quasimoto – The Further Adventures of Lord Quas
Talib Kweli – Liberation
Mos Def – The New Danger

Also, I'm of the notion that Souls of Mischief peaked with their debut, so I'd avoid Trilogy.

= = =

I'd like to thank m'man Math and my other, uh, m'man JP for the phenomenal bit of blog fodder. And, for those of you who keep axing, yes, I've got designs on doing more music things in the very near future.

Stay by your inbox, Mathan!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The TBoGden Travel Diary - Part V

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

So, we've boarded the airplane for our flight home to San Diego when the first flight attendant approaches the young woman seated immediately behind us:

"Ma'am, you'll have to put your dog in a carrying cage."

I'm generally averse to eavesdropping on anyone else's conversation (Mrs. Bootleg would sue me on the grounds of "gimmick infringement"), but the engines hadn't fired up yet, so I couldn't help but hear. The young woman's response was simple and straightforward:

"He's a service dog."

OK. I think we've all seen service dogs. The first two images that came up in my Google search are here and here. When I think "service dog", I think of a pooch that's not too big, not too small, but leaning more to the "big" side of the spectrum. Can we agree on this? Good.

Now, here's a reasonable facsimile of the dog sitting behind us, under its owner's arm.

Service dog, my ass.

A few minutes later (we still haven't taken off yet) another flight attendant approaches the woman and asks her to put the dog in a carrying cage. Again, the passenger insists that she's holding a "service dog". In fact, the woman would be asked two more times by two different flight attendants to put the dog in a carrier. By the fourth time, she's getting a little irritated with the frequent requests to cage her canine.

This leads to quite the surreal scene as three of the flight attendants are gathered a few feet in front of me and embroiled in one of those intentionally-too-loud conversations about the young woman and her companion:

"That dog needs to be in a carrier. Did anyone see its service tag?"

In other words: service dog, my ass.

The flight back to San Diego was pretty painless, save for my son's last-second request to go to the bathroom before takeoff. We were actually still in the can when the plane began to pull back from the terminal. We had to get back to our seats so quickly, that I didn't have the opportunity to see Jalen freak out in response to the high-powered airplane toilet suction.

After we landed, Mrs. Bootleg, the boy and I were making our way to baggage claim when the young woman and her furry purse came up alongside us.

Now, I don't know if it was the fact that we'd just spent 90-some minutes on airplane (Those of you who fly regularly know that you have to raise your voice slightly in order to engage in simple conversation, right?) but, I responded to Mrs. Bootleg's comment on the dog's cuteness, thusly:

"Service dog, my ass."

In an instant, the young woman (I'd guess she couldn't have been more than 18-20 years old) wheels around and hisses, "Excuse me?!" in that stereotypical 90210 tone.

Was it any of my business?

Probably not.

Did the dog create any problems for me or my family on the flight?


See, though, here's the thing: She shouldn't have been so brazen about gaming the system. I couldn't care less if she wants to squeeze 12 items through the "10 items or less" express check-out lane. Maybe she likes to deceitfully park her car in one of those "expectant mom" spaces that's popped up in front of every mall in America. Whatever.

Since 9/11, however, everyone's been subjected to the same hassles of airline travel. And, when ONE person can skirt the airport rules by simply re-stating the same lie over and over…well, then the terrorists have won and their President gets elected.

So, how did I react to Paris Hilton's mini-hissy fit? I figured I had just two options: (1) Walk away and say nothing, dismissing her as an unworthy opponent for my quick wit and incredible intellect or (2)…

"I said, 'Service dog, my ass'."

In hindsight, I should be grateful that she was the one who just rolled her eyes and walked away. I turned to Mrs. Bootleg who was…ummm, what's 100x more than "mortified"? And, without missing a beat, I explained to my wife:

"Hey, she challenged me in front of my family. What was I supposed to do?"

A few hours later, after we got home, I tried to make a crack about the incident, but Mrs. Bootleg shot me the look. I mean, the look, which silently translates to "never, ever bring this up again".

Gee, I hope I don't accidentally send her the link to this post.

Monday, February 2, 2009

TBG Drinks: Hop-15 Ale

Brewed By: Port Brewing Company
Brewed In: San Marcos, California
Type: Double IPA
ABV: 10.0%

What They Say: " [T]here are 15 different hop varieties that are added to the beer every 15 minutes. Over the years, Hop 15 has racked up numerous accolades. It has won two silver medals at the Great American Beer Festival. It also was named Alpha King in 2004 and received a first place award at the Bistro Double IPA beer festival in Hayward, CA. Hop 15 remains won [sic] of the stickiest most resinous beers we have ever tasted and for that, we are thankful it is on tap at our brewery each and every day."

Website: Port Brewing's site is as uncomplicated as can be. A single column of text scrolls top-to-bottom in the center of the screen with the left and right sides of the screen left essentially empty. There are a few hundred words on the company's origins on the main page along with links to some of Port's beers (not every link works, though) and management team. Port's pretty popular here in San Diego County, so it's surprising that their merchandise link leads nowhere.

Why I Picked It: The Mysterious Mr. S turned me on to Port's annual beer-fest a few years ago. There, I sampled several of their brews and made meticulous mental notes on the ones I especially liked. That was in 2006 and the only thing I remember about that evening is the commemorative pint glass that came with my admission. But, I think Hop-15 was served that night.


Presentation (5): For obvious reasons, I'm biased towards the green and gold in the logo. And, the old-timey bomber planes dropping hops from above is a terrific bit of imagery on the bottle. 5

Originality (5): Nothing too unique here, people. Hop-15 is wee bit lighter than your everyday double IPA. Port Brewing does boast a distinctive Southern California flavor, though, so I'll give it a couple of points on geographic goodness, alone. 2

Body (10): It pours cloudy and amber with a decent lil' head and minimal carbonation. The overhyped "stickiness" down the glass is apparent, but not that heavy. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't as syrupy as some other double IPAs I've ingested. 8

Taste (10): Definitely hoppy, but not overwhelmingly so. There's a lingering bitterness in every sip, which gives way to a tag team of light citrus and pine notes. I haven't had many IPAs, but this one was sweeter than I expected. I'm still developing a taste for these elitist beers, but I'm pretty sure there were trace tastes of honey and caramel in there, too. 7

Efficiency (10): With Jalen's fifth birthday coming up, this bit of hyperbole couldn't be timelier: Mrs. Bootleg didn't nurse our son for as long as I nursed this beer. 1

Versatility (10): In accordance with That Beer Snob Guy's own definition, "versatile" isn't exactly an operative adjective. I sipped this over the course of the Super Bowl's second half (after scarfing down a three-piece spicy white meat meal from Popeye's(!)) and the deliberate pacing it takes to enjoy a double IPA negates the possibility of enjoying this in all but the most laid back settings. 1

Grade: 24 (out of 50) – OK beer

The above format has been lifted with permission from That Beer Snob Guy.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

2009 Playoff Pickery - That Game on Sunday

Two Weeks Ago (Total):

Straight Up:

Cam: 1-1 (5-5)
Tom: 2-0 (5-5)
Joe: 2-0 (3-7)

Against the Spread:

Cam: 1-1 (5-5)
Tom: 1-1 (5-5)
Joe: 1-1 (1-9)

Joe: Back in Week One, I actually picked the Steelers for the Super Bowl, and while I was scoffing at the Cardinals' chances, I did mention the words "Super Bowl" in their write-up too. Freaky(ish)
. And, sure, I ended up losing faith in Pittsburgh about halfway through the season when it didn't look they had anything resembling an offense, but ended up regaining my faith around Week 14 or so. That being said, I'm rooting for the Cardinals for a variety of reasons, most of them surrounding this idea that just because Cards fans haven't been wailing and gnashing their teeth like drama-queen Red Sox fans pre-2004 means they don't "deserve" to see their team win a championship. Then again, despite the fact that I called both games correctly last week, I figure I still wield something of a curse in these playoff picks, so I'm doing my best to reverse ju-ju this mother. Pick: Pittsburgh 29, Arizona 17

Aaron: Two weeks ago, I was certain that the Cardinals would "shock the world" here. Then, "the world" all seemed to think the same thing. One week ago, I bought into the simple, yet effective "Pittsburgh is the better team" theme. But, that position seemed awfully reliant on ignoring how Arizona beat three teams last month - at least two of them, it could be argued, were "better" than the Cards. So, let's throw out the "Cards win a nailbiter" and "Steelers win in a romp" predictions that seem to be the obvious calls. That leaves us with either a Cards cakewalk or the Steelers slipping by 'Zona with a late FG or something. The former is reliant on Fitzgerald/Boldin going off. The latter needs Big Ben to be something he hasn't been in weeks: great when it really, really counts. Pick: Arizona 31, Pittsburgh 13